June 07, 2024

America’s War Machine Can’t Make Basic Artillery Fast Enough

Source: Bloomberg

Journalists: Roxana Tiron, Billy House

Higher-tech shells that were intended to replace the traditional 155mm munitions failed an early test in Ukraine, when their targeting systems were thwarted by Russia. The prospect that future wars could resemble the grinding combat taking place there has stirred fears that the US arsenal could someday be stretched to the breaking point.

“The writing has been on the wall for a while,” said Stacie Pettyjohn, a senior fellow and director of the defense program at the independent and bipartisan Center for a New American Security. “It has just taken the war in Ukraine to really shock Pentagon officials and members of Congress out of their complacency.”

The Army is now playing a costly game of catchup. Congress has allocated $650 million for a TNT production facility that will take two years to build, according to Doug Bush, the Army’s top weapons buyer. And the US will need to fund purchases of what the revamped facilities produce, possibly for many years.


Much of the funding to increase munitions manufacturing will come from the recently enacted US spending bill, which passed after a six-month political battle led by Republicans who opposed further assistance for Ukraine. Yet Bush said the Pentagon will need to spend another $3.5 billion a year to buy the ammunition—costs that would need to be covered by future spending bills. The US is also planning to shell out more money for bunker-busting bombs and other heavy weapons.

“Congress is the single biggest problem and impediment in expanding munition production,” said Pettyjohn, of the Center for a New American Security.

Read the full story and more from Bloomberg.


  • Stacie Pettyjohn

    Senior Fellow and Director, Defense Program

    Stacie Pettyjohn is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Defense Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). Her areas of expertise include defense strategy, post...